Factory employment declines but petroleum investment soars

Factory employment declines but petroleum investment soars

Thongchai Chawalitpichaet, director-general of the Industrial Works Department, addresses a press conference at the department in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo from the department's website)
Thongchai Chawalitpichaet, director-general of the Industrial Works Department, addresses a press conference at the department in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo from the department's website)

Thailand's factory employment in the first half of 2019 fell by 5.45% year-on-year to 92,262 workers, the Industrial Works Department said on Tuesday, as more companies move to replace workers with high-tech machinery.

Total factory registration for the period was down 18.06% year-on-year to 2,064 factories.

Despite the smaller number, the total value of registered factories from January to June stood at 195.7 billion baht, up by 15.85% year-on-year, driven by the petroleum, food and electronics sectors.

The department reported figures for both new factory registrations and factory expansions.

Thongchai Chawalitpichaet, the department's director-general, said many industrial operators invested heavily in machinery and equipment in the first half in order to increase their production efficiency.

Of the total value, the petroleum sector gained the most -- up by a staggering 2,370% to 38.53 billion baht. Food was the second largest sector, although its value of 28.9 billion baht was 15.76% lower than a year earlier. The electronics sector was valued at 19.57 billion baht from January to June, up by 84.43%.

The department reported 1,659 new factory registrations in the first half, employing 45,733 workers. The total value for new operations stood at 106 billion baht, led by food (19.3 billion baht), petroleum (16.8 billion baht) and electronics (14.21 billion baht).

Mr Thongchai said overall investment in the second half is expected to be higher than the first, because the formation of the new government is expected to boost general investor confidence.

"But the US-China trade war remains a huge risk for global investment, so the new government has to handle this situation carefully to maintain investment flows in the country," he said.


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